So about a month ago I went to the local grocery store to buy some body wash, but I didn’t see any bottles labeled “gel de ducha” (body wash). I walked around looking for some “pastilla de jabón” (bar soap) instead, but couldn’t find any of that either. I did see a bottle of something called “limpiador de maquillaje” though. Now, seeing the word “limpiador” (cleaner) and something that resembled a gel I assumed that the bottle contained some sort of bath gel. Unfortunately, as a guy, I never became familiar with the Spanish word for makeup… maquillaje. I saw the word and assumed it had something to do with body because it possessed some resemblance to the word mannequin. Anyways, long story short, while showering it occurred to me that I was washing myself with makeup remover, and ended up giving the bottle of makeup remover to my host mom as part of her mother’s day gift bundle.
Great people, beach, food, and wine more or less summarizes Alicante. I personally could not have asked for a better environment to learn a new language and culture than Alicante. I don’t know if it’s the great weather or daily siesta, but Alicante is one of the most laidback cities I have ever visited thus far in my young life. It is an extremely beautiful city as well with the Castile of Santa Barbara as its main landmark. Furthermore, not many people speak English fluently in Alicante making it a great city to study abroad in if you are looking to actively learn the Spanish language. El barrio, the old neighborhood of the city where are the bars and discotecas are located, was a lot of fun as well.
I would highly recommend studying abroad in Alicante for anyone looking to learn Spanish while having an awesome time. If you have any questions about living in Alicante, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
I promised this post in my previous entry about the Spanish siesta, so here is an overview of the meals of Spain:
El Desayuno (7:30-8:30): The smallest meal of the day, breakfast typically consists of coffee, cereals, rolls, toast, or muffins. One of the most popular preparations of coffee is cafe con leche, which is a 1:1 mixture of a strong coffee and scalded milk. An exception to the typical Spanish breakfast is seen in Madrid, where it is typical to consume churros dipped in hot chocolate for breakfast (good thing I didn’t study abroad in Madrid cause I would’ve come back looking like this).
Tapas (10:30-11:30): Little dishes that Spaniards eat in between breakfast and La Comida, the large mid-day meal. Tapas are often consumed with wines or beers.
La Comida (2-4): The largest meal of the day, which has multiple courses. Traditionally stores across the country close for 2-3 hours for the mid-day meal and siesta. La comida serves not only as the largest meal of the day, but also a social gathering for family members.
La Merienda (5-6): A late-afternoon snack that can consist of anything such as fruit, toast with jamón, or pastries.
La Cena (9-11): A small meal eaten late at night.
In conclusion, if you are a food lover, Spain is an AWESOME place to study abroad.
“¡Javy, sientate!” Javy sit! I desperately tried to get Javy, the 6 year-old demon-child in the kindergarten class that I volunteer at, to calm down as he crawled across the classroom floor on his stomach as though he was an Army Marine. Ahh crap, uhmm en el imperativo negativo you’re supposed to add an -es for the tu form si es un verbo que termina con -ar… So don’t throw that would be… “Javy, no lo tires!!” My mental processing in Spanglish of how to say a phrase as simple as “don’t throw that” was just a split second too slow as the necessary words were uttered as Javy started to hurl the pencil case. Watching the pencil case being released from Javy’s hand towards one of the other students in the class was reminiscent of one of those slow motion, uber dramatic movie scenes (luckily Javy missed his target because soccer is the main sport in Spain, thus all the kids have pretty lousy aim when throwing stuff).
Ughh, I groaned to myself, why did Spaniards have to create a whole effin separate tense for negative commands… While I was taking a moment to wallow in my own self-inadequacies I failed to notice that Sara, one of the other students in my class, was starting to take her shirt off whilst dancing on top of a desk. “Madre mia!! Sara bajate!” I looked across the room to the two other volunteers in the class, and their eyes were full of despair. Haha oh man… Okay enough is enough. I reached down, picked Javy up, sat him in his chair, carried him and the desk to the corner of the room, and said “Todos basta ya? Javy sientate en el rincón por 5 minutos!” Everyone enough, okay? Javy, sit in the corner for 5 minutes!…
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the kids that I volunteer with and it has been an amazing experience as I have been able to further practice my Spanish while learning more about Spanish culture. But based on my observations, the most well-behaved of these Spanish kids are definitely a lot rowdier and unruly than the worst American kids I’ve taught or babysat. I can’t say definitively what the cause of this is, but I have a hypothesis: after years of suppression and censorship under the Franco dictatorship, Spaniards in contemporary society have over-embraced their newfound liberties and contorted this freedom into pseudo-anarchism. I’m probably over-exaggerating things to a certain extent, but seeing this sense of self-liberation in Spaniards, particularly those of younger generations, has been quite fascinating to me as I learn about Spain’s history and try piecing together what I’ve learned in the classroom and what I’ve witnessed firsthand.
Anyways, the moral of this story is if for some reason you plan on baby-sitting Spanish kids anytime in the near future… beware.
As a sequel to my last blog post, I will now talk about some humorous Spanish colloquialisms I have learned during my time abroad:
Spanish Colloquialism: Estás como un queso
Literal English Translation: You are like cheese
Actual Significance: A colloquial expression used to indicate that someone is very attractive.
Spanish Colloquialism: Estás más bueno que el pan
Literal English Translation: You are better than bread
Actual Significance: Another colloquial expression used to indicate that someone is very attractive.
Spanish Colloquialism: Estás para mojar pan
Literal English Translation: You are for dipping bread
Actual Significance: Yet again another colloquial expression used to indicate that someone is very attractive.
… I don’t know what the ladies reading this blog think about these pick-up lines, but I feel like if a guy tried any of these in the States he’d either leave the girl extremely confused or get slapped in the face. Why would a girl want to be compared to squishy, smelly cheese or be called the best thing since sliced bread? Also telling a girl they were meant for dipping bread could easily be misunderstood and interpreted as offensive. Either way, these pick-up lines do reflect the importance of cheese and bread in Spanish culture and its gastronomy. Anyways…
Spanish Colloquialism: Calzón Chino
Literal English Translation: Chinese trouser
Actual Significance: A wedgie (prank where you pull a person’s underwear as far up as possible to hurt their crotch)
Spanish Colloquialism: Estar de un humor de perros
Literal English Translation: To be of the mood of dogs
Actual Significance: To be in a foul mood
Spanish Colloquialsim: Con el dinero baila el perro
Literal English Translation: With money the dog will dance
Actual Signifance: With money anything is possible
Spanish Colloquialism: Buscarle tres pies al gato
Literal English Translation: To look for three feet on a cat
Actual Significance: To go looking for trouble/to unnecessarily complicate things
Spanish Colloquialism: Pagar el pato
Literal English Translation: To pay the duck
Actual Significance: To take the blame
Spanish Colloquialism: Un pez gordo
Literal English Translation: A fat fish
Actual Significance: A big shot/fat cat
Spanish Colloquialism: Por si las moscas
Literal English Translation: For if there are flies
Actual Significance: Just in case
Spanish Colloquialis: No tiene dos dedos de frente
Literal English Translation: He doesn’t have two fingers of forehead
Actual Significance: He isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed
Hey everyone. Sorry these blog posts have been so far and in between the past couple of months. My laptop’s hard drive actually died a couple of months ago, and it has been difficult finding time on a computer to do schoolwork, let alone blog. I got my computer fixed now though, so lucky for you guys you’ll be hearing from me a lot more frequently this next month and a half.
Anyways, it’s story time. So, a few months ago during my program’s orientation, a few friends and I grabbed lunch with one of CIEE’s (the Center for International Educational Exchange, which is the program I am currently studying abroad through) Spanish Helper Students. As the meal and conversation progressed, we eventually arrived at the customary exchange of swear words and colloquial phrases. After learning a Spanish colloquial phrase that directly translates to, “I’m going to s#!% in your milk,” our Spanish Helper Student, Paula, turned and said to one of the girls, “Why are you so horny?” … We turned and stared at her in utter confusion. Paula answered our puzzled expressions by asking, “What’s wrong? Doesn’t ‘horny’ mean the same thing as b!&%#?” We sat in silence for another second, processing what she had just said, and then burst out in laughter. By our responses Paula could tell she had said something completely wrong. We ended up explaining to Paula what the significance of the word horny was, and she turned bright red in embarrassment.
Luckily, I haven’t completely embarrassed myself around any Spanish students or whatnot in this manner because I had more or less mastered a respectable amount of Spanish colloquial phrases within my first couple of weeks in Spain; however, I have had my fair share of linguistically challenged moments. For example, I was trying to describe what I had learned in my gastronomy class to my host parents one night, but instead of saying “cerdos negros,” which means black pigs, I spend 10 minutes saying “cerrados negros,” which means black closings, instead. But, all things considered, I’ve been pretty good up to this point of not completely embarrassing myself and calling someone a horny b!&%# unintentionally *pats myself on the back*.
I could see it approaching over the horizon. With the wind screeching by me, I braced myself for the mad dash I was about to take over the ledge. Taking a literal leap of faith, I urged my unicorn onwards as I approached the crystal star while Always played endlessly in the background. I was certain I would land the jump when all of a sudden my robotic horned steed started plummeting into an endless abyss. I was helpless and started falling…
Gasp! I startled awake from my dream and tussled off my sheets. I took a deep sigh of relief once I realized I had just been dreaming and wriggled back underneath my blanket. I thought to myself, I guess that’s what happens when you play too much Robot Unicorn Attack…
Just as my eyes were about to shut close again, I peeked out the window and realized that the sun was just starting to come out. Oh crap! I thought as I hastily picked up my phone to see how late I was going to be for class. My phone read 6:53… PM.
Now, this wasn’t a case of me sleeping 16+ hours and missing class (although I am victim of such instances in the past); rather, I had just woken up from my daily siesta. These siestas have been one of my favorite things about Spain. Siesta refers to the traditional Spanish afternoon nap taken after midday meals. In Spain the midday meal* is the largest meal of the day, so the combination of warm weather and post-meal drowsiness/the itis/food coma result in more or less a daily Thanksgiving day nap.
However, this notion of taking a daily siesta entails stores throughout Spain closing for roughly two or three hours between 2:00 – 5:00 PM. During this mid-day break, Spaniards gather with their friends and family to eat, socialize, and take their siestas. As much as I love my daily siesta, this concept of essentially pausing one’s entire day initially baffled me. I found it comical that an entire nation could be so lackadaisical about their work, especially in the face of such a daunting economic crisis. I was left thinking it was only fitting that Spain had the highest unemployment rate in the world because even those with jobs chose to spend a fourth of their day eating and sleeping.
I must say that the mid-afternoon break definitely has its appeals though. Even in school I had always scheduled my day so that I could eat a hearty lunch and take a power nap whenever possible before going to the rest of my classes and whatever meetings or office hours I might have that day (thank you Professor Maas for drilling the benefits of taking a power nap into my head).
But for Spaniards, it goes beyond just eating lots of food and taking a siesta. Spaniards honestly just don’t seem to give a frick about timeliness in everything they do. Thus, Spaniards will show up for meetings 10 minutes late, stop and take an extra second to talk to friends they see in the streets, and sit down to drink their coffee and eat a snack rather than frantically trying to scarf down their food as they hustle to an appointment. In comparison, Americans definitely seem to get lost in the hectic pace of their lives much more often. Having been born in New York City and raised 10 minutes outside of it, I have become more than accustomed to this Type A, fast paced, and stress filled lifestyle many Americans live.
When I previously talked of Spaniards being more passionate about life, I believe the root of this comes from them giving themselves the opportunity to enjoy life more. By taking that extra minute to eat, sleep, talk, or whatever it may be, Spaniards afford themselves the chance to stumble across more of life’s little moments that enrich our lives with happiness.
All in all, siesta-ing every day is definitely something I can get used to.
*FYI the midday meal is distinct from lunch, and I will go over the typical Spanish meal schedule in another blog entry
I’d like to make an alteration to my previous blog entry because it appears I may have spoken too soon. I previously spoke of how Spaniards seem to act more out of passion than Americans, but this may not hold up in all aspects of life: while many Americans live to work, most Spaniards work to live.
Marx spoke of how a person’s work should feed their human essence because humans are “active beings.” According to Marx, through one’s work, one can find a medium to express oneself, quell curiosities, and achieve true productivity. In the USA with our diverse platter of masters, doctoral, and professional schools, many are able to find a specialization and job they are truly passionate about; however, for the majority of Spaniards, they have become alienated from their work, which has become an undesirable means to sustaining life.
Obviously the majority of Americans still find themselves in jobs they dislike, but with Spain’s current unemployment rate over 20%, Americans are definitely afforded more opportunities to explore their interests and find truly satisfying jobs or careers.
Alicante is a city located in the Valencian Community of Spain. One of the most prominent features of the city is the Castle of Santa Bárbara, which is situated on Mount Benacantil overlooking the port and city of Alicante.
Legend has it that a Moorish king and his daughter, Cantara, used to reside in the castle over a thousand years ago. Cantara was said to be the fairest of the land, and her beauty was ballyhooed in prose and song. When Cantara turned sixteen, her father deemed her old enough to be betrothed. Two princes came along, named Almanzor and Ali, asking for Cantara’s hand in marriage. The king, unable to determine who should marry his daughter, declared that the first to complete a set of tasks would be wedded to Cantara. Almanzor proceeded to swiftly complete his challenges, which consisted of bringing back rare spices from the Indies; however, Ali spent all his time writing love letters to Cantara, and he was thus able to earn her love. But, being a man of his word, the king had to grant Almanzor his daughter’s hand despite Cantara’s protests. Struck with grief, Cantara jumped off the castle wall and plummeted to her death. Upon hearing the news of Cantara’s death, Ali too jumped so that he could be with his love in death.
The people of Alicante decided to name the city after Ali and Cantara so that the story of their tragic romance would be forever remembered and recounted. Furthermore, “La Cara de Moro” (The Face of the Moor), on Mount Benacantil is said to be the profile of the late Moorish king who lived out the rest of his life in deep sorrow and grief for the loss of his daughter…
Now, there’s no clear moral to this story. One can argue that it warns of the dangers of love and lust, and that one shouldn’t act so hastily. However, I believe the story is a manifestation of Spaniards’ passion. While the story by no means encourages people to go jumping off mountains to demonstrate their love for one another, I believe it does to a certain extent portray the belief that one should always act in love. I have observed this mindset on a daily basis in my time so far here in Spain. Whether it’s young couples going at it on a park bench or my host dad talking with passionate zeal about FC Barcelona, Spaniards embrace living their lives to the fullest and making sure they love every moment of it. I know this sounds clichéd (and saying that it sounds clichéd is clichéd within itself), but I believe this is a lesson worth listening to because too often we act sans passion in the United States.